The FCC currently issues the following types of commercial operator licenses and endorsements:

Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit (RR)

Description

RR holders are authorized to operate most aircraft and aeronautical ground stations. They can also operate marine radiotelephone stations aboard pleasure craft (other than those carrying more than six passengers for hire on the Great Lakes or bays or tidewaters or in the open sea) when operator licensing is required.

An RR is NOT needed to operate the following:

  • Ship stations operating only on VHF frequencies that do not travel to foreign ports or make international communications (unless the vessel carries more than six passengers for hire, or the ship is larger than 300 gross tons and is required by law to carry a radio station for safety purposes).
  • Shore radar, shore radiolocation, maritime support, marine utility, or shore radionavigation stations.
  • Survival craft stations or EPIRBs.
  • Ship radar stations, if (a) the radar frequency is determined by a nontunable, pulse type magnetron or other fixed tune device, and (b) the radar is capable of being operated exclusively by external controls.
  • Coast stations.
  • Aircraft stations which operate only on VHF frequencies and do not make foreign flights.
  • Aircraft radar sets, radio altimeters, transponders or other aircraft automatic radionavigation transmitters.
  • ELTs or aviation survival craft stations used solely for survival purposes (testing only).

Qualifications

  • be a legal resident of (or otherwise eligible for employment in) the United States; and
  • be able to speak and hear; and
  • be able to keep at least a rough written log; and
  • be familiar with provisions of applicable treaties, laws and rules which govern the radio station you will operate.

Term of License

An RR is issued for the holder's lifetime.

How to Obtain a License

Submit FCC Form 605. There is no proof of passing certificate requirement for an RR. Use the FCC Form 605 and the FCC Form 159 (fee processing form) to replace a lost, stolen, or mutilated license.

Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit-Limited Use (RL)

Description

  • An RL generally authorizes the same privileges as a Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit (RR), but is issued only to persons who are NOT legally eligible for employment in the United States. However, if your eligibility for an RL is based on your holding of a valid FCC radio station license, then the RL authorizes you to operate only your licensed radio station, and no other radio station.

Qualifications

To qualify, you must:

  • hold a valid United States pilot certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration; or
  • hold a foreign aircraft pilot certificate which is valid in the United States on the basis of a reciprocal agreement with the foreign government; or
  • hold a valid radio station license issued by the FCC in your own name. (An RL issued on this basis will authorize you to operate your own station only.)

AND you must:

  • be able to speak and hear; and
  • be able to keep at least a rough written log; and
  • be familiar with provisions of applicable treaties, laws and rules which govern the radio station you will operate.

Term of License

An RL is issued for the holder's lifetime.

How to Obtain a License

Submit FCC Form 605. There is no proof of passing certificate requirement for an RL. Use the FCC Form 605 and the FCC Form 159 (fee processing form) to replace a lost, stolen, or mutilated license.

Marine Radio Operator Permit (MP)

Description

MPs are required to operate radiotelephone stations aboard certain vessels that sail the Great Lakes. They are also required to operate radiotelephone stations aboard vessels of more than 300 gross tons and vessels which carry more than six passengers for hire in the open sea or any tidewater area of the United States. They are also required to operate certain aviation radiotelephone stations and certain coast radiotelephone stations.

Qualifications

To qualify, you must:

  • be a legal resident of (or otherwise eligible for employment in) the United States; and
  • be able to receive and transmit spoken messages in English; and
  • pass a written and/or telegraphy examination(s) as described below under Examinations.

Term of License

An MP is issued for the holder's lifetime. (Prior to March 25, 2008, the license term for an MP was five years. Any holder of an MP that expired prior to March 25, 2008, must still file an application to renew the permit within the five-year grace period after expiration.)

How to Obtain a License

Submit FCC Form 605 along with the appropriate Proof of Passing Certificates (for the requisite written examination element). Use the FCC Form 605 and the FCC Form 159 (fee processing form) to renew a license or to replace a lost, stolen, or mutilated license. Many Commercial Operator License Examination Managers (COLEMs) file these documents for applicants who test with them. Ask your COLEM if it provides this service to its customers.

Examinations

To obtain an FCC Commercial Operator License, applicants must submit, to the Commission, proof of passing written Elements as illustrated in the following table.

  Written Elements Telegraphy Elements
Type of License 1 3 5 6 7 7R 8 9 1 2
Marine Radio Operator Permit                     

Written Examination Elements

  • Element 1 - Basic radio law and operating practice with which every maritime radio operator should be familiar. To pass, an examinee must correctly answer at least 18 out of 24 questions.

General Radiotelephone Operator License (PG)

Description

A PG is required to adjust, maintain, or internally repair FCC licensed radiotelephone transmitters in the aviation, maritime, and international fixed public radio services. It conveys all of the operating authority of the MP. It is also required to operate the following:

  • any compulsorily equipped ship radiotelephone station operating with more than 1500 watts of peak envelope power.
  • voluntarily equipped ship and aeronautical (including aircraft) stations with more than 1000 watts of peak envelope power.

Qualifications

To qualify, you must:

  • be a legal resident of (or otherwise eligible for employment in) the United States; and
  • be able to receive and transmit spoken messages in English; and
  • pass a written and/or telegraphy examination(s) as described below under Examinations.

Term of License

A PG is issued for the holder's lifetime.

How to Obtain a License

Submit FCC Form 605 along with the appropriate Proof of Passing Certificates. Use the FCC Form 605 and the FCC Form 159 (fee processing form) to replace a lost, stolen, or mutilated license. Many Commercial Operator License Examination Managers (COLEMs) file these documents for applicants who test with them. Ask your COLEM if it provides this service to its customers.

Examinations

To obtain an FCC Commercial Operator License, applicants must submit, to the Commission, proof of passing written and/or telegraphy Elements as illustrated in the following table.

  Written Elements Telegraphy Elements
Type of License 1 3 5 6 7 7R 8 9 1 2
General Radiotelephone Operator License                      

Written Examination Elements

  • Element 1 - Basic radio law and operating practice with which every maritime radio operator should be familiar. To pass, an examinee must correctly answer at least 18 out of 24 questions.
  • Element 3 - General Radiotelephone. Electronic fundamentals and techniques required to adjust, repair, and maintain radio transmitters and receivers. The exam consists of questions from the following categories: operating procedures, radio wave propagation, radio practice, electrical principles, circuit components, practical circuits, signals and emissions, and antennas and feed lines. To pass, an examinee must correctly answer at least 75 out of 100 questions.

GMDSS Radio Operator's License (DO)

Description

The DO qualifies the holder to operate, and make some basic equipment adjustments to, Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) radio installations. It also confers the operating authority of the MP.

Qualifications

To qualify, you must:

  • be a legal resident of (or otherwise eligible for employment in) the United States; and
  • be able to receive and transmit spoken messages in English; and
  • pass a written and/or telegraphy examination(s) as described below under Examinations.

Term of License

A DO is issued for the holder's lifetime. (Prior to March 25, 2008, the license term for a DO was five years. Any holder of a DO that expired prior to March 25, 2008, must still file an application to renew the license within the five-year grace period after expiration.)

How to Obtain a License

Submit FCC Form 605 along with the appropriate Proof of Passing Certificates. Use the FCC Form 605 and the FCC Form 159 (fee processing form) to renew a license or to replace a lost, stolen, or mutilated license. Many Commercial Operator License Examination (COLE) Managers file these documents for applicants who test with them. Ask your COLEM if it provides this service to its customers.

Examinations

To obtain an FCC Commercial Operator License, applicants must submit, to the Commission, proof of passing written and/or telegraphy Elements as illustrated in the following table.

  Written Elements Telegraphy Elements
Type of License 1 3 5 6 7 7R 8 9 1 2
GMDSS Radio Operator's License                      

Written Examination Elements

  • Element 1 - Basic radio law and operating practice with which every maritime radio operator should be familiar. To pass, an examinee must correctly answer at least 18 out of 24 questions.
  • Element 7 - GMDSS Radio Operating Practices. GMDSS radio operating procedures and practices sufficient to show detailed practical knowledge of the operation of all GMDSS sub-systems and equipment. The exam consists of questions from the following categories: general information, narrow band direct printing, INMARSAT, NAVTEX, digital selective calling, and survival craft. To pass, an examinee must correctly answer at least 75 out of 100 questions.
  • In lieu of proof of passing Written Examination Elements 1 and 7, applicants may submit a proof of passing certificate issued by the United States Coast Guard or its designee representing a certificate of competency from a Coast Guard-approved training course for a GMDSS endorsement.

Restricted GMDSS Radio Operator's License (RG)

Description

The RG qualifies the holder to operate, and make some basic equipment adjustments to, Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) radio installations, but only on voyages that remain within twenty (20) nautical miles of shore. It also confers the operating authority of the MP.

Qualifications

To qualify, you must:

  • be a legal resident of (or otherwise eligible for employment in) the United States; and
  • be able to receive and transmit spoken messages in English; and
  • pass a written and/or telegraphy examination(s) as described below under Examinations.

Term of License

An RG is issued for the holder's lifetime. (Prior to March 25, 2008, the license term for an RG was five years.)

How to Obtain a License

Submit FCC Form 605 along with the appropriate Proof of Passing Certificates. Use the FCC Form 605 and the FCC Form 159 (fee processing form) to renew a license or to replace a lost, stolen, or mutilated license. Many Commercial Operator License Examination (COLE) Managers file these documents for applicants who test with them. Ask your COLEM if it provides this service to its customers.

Examinations

To obtain an FCC Commercial Operator License, applicants must submit, to the Commission, proof of passing written and/or telegraphy Elements as illustrated in the following table.

  Written Elements Telegraphy Elements
Type of License 1 3 5 6 7 7R 8 9 1 2
GMDSS Radio Operator's License                      

Written Examination Elements

  • Element 1 - Basic radio law and operating practice with which every maritime radio operator should be familiar. To pass, an examinee must correctly answer at least 18 out of 24 questions.
  • Element 7R - GMDSS Radio Operating Practices. GMDSS Restricted radio operating procedures and practices sufficient to show detailed practical knowledge of the operation of the VHF GMDSS sub-systems and equipment. The exam consists of questions from the following categories: general information, VHF digital selective calling, and carriage requirement. To pass, an examinee must correctly answer at least 38 out of 50 questions.
  • In lieu of proof of passing Written Examination Elements 1 and 7R, applicants may submit a proof of passing certificate issued by the United States Coast Guard or its designee representing a certificate of competency from a Coast Guard-approved training course for a GMDSS endorsement.

GMDSS Radio Maintainer's License (DM)

Description

The DM qualifies personnel as GMDSS radio maintainers to perform at sea repair and maintenance of GMDSS equipment. It also confers the operating authority of the PG and MP.

NOTE: In instances where an applicant qualifies for both a DO and a DM, the applicant qualifies to hold a GMDSS Radio Operator/Maintainer License (DB).

Qualifications

To qualify, you must:

  • be a legal resident of (or otherwise eligible for employment in) the United States; and
  • be able to receive and transmit spoken messages in English; and
  • pass a written and/or telegraphy examination(s) as described below under Examinations.

Term of License

A DM is issued for the holder's lifetime. (Prior to March 25, 2008, the license term for a DM was five years. Any holder of a DM that expired prior to March 25, 2008, must still file an application to renew the license within the five-year grace period after expiration.)

How to Obtain a License

Submit FCC Form 605 along with the appropriate Proof of Passing Certificates. Use the FCC Form 605 and the FCC Form 159 (fee processing form) to renew a license or to replace a lost, stolen, or mutilated license. Many Commercial Operator License Examination (COLE) Managers file these documents for applicants who test with them. Ask your COLEM if it provides this service to its customers.

Examinations

To obtain an FCC Commercial Operator License, applicants must submit, to the Commission, proof of passing written Elements as illustrated in the following table.

  Written Elements Telegraphy Elements
Type of License 1 3 5 6 7 7R 8 9 1 2
GMDSS Radio Maintainer's License                       

Written Examination Elements

  • Element 1 - Basic radio law and operating practice with which every maritime radio operator should be familiar. To pass, an examinee must correctly answer at least 18 out of 24 questions.
  • Element 3 - General Radiotelephone. Electronic fundamentals and techniques required to adjust, repair, and maintain radio transmitters and receivers. The exam consists of questions from the following categories: operating procedures, radio wave propagation, radio practice, electrical principles, circuit components, practical circuits, signals and emissions, and antennas and feed lines. To pass, an examinee must correctly answer at least 57 out of 76 questions.
  • Element 9 - GMDSS Radio Maintenance Practices and Procedures. Requirements set forth in IMO Assembly on Training for Radio Personnel (GMDSS), Annex 5 and IMO Assembly on Radio Maintenance Guidelines for the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System related to Sea Areas A3 and A4. The exam consists of questions from the following categories: radio system theory, amplifiers, power sources, troubleshooting, digital theory, and GMDSS equipment and regulations. To pass, an examinee must correctly answer at least 38 out of 50 questions.

GMDSS Radio Operator/Maintainer License (DB)

Description

The DB confers the operating authority of the DO and the DM (and, by extension, it also confers the operating authority of the PG and MP).

Qualifications

To qualify, you must:

  • be a legal resident of (or otherwise eligible for employment in) the United States; and
  • be able to receive and transmit spoken messages in English; and
  • pass a written and/or telegraphy examination(s) as described below under Examinations.

Term of License

A DB is issued for the holder's lifetime. (Prior to March 25, 2008, the license term for a DM was five years. Any holder of a DM that expired prior to March 25, 2008, must still file an application to renew the license within the five-year grace period after expiration.)

How to Obtain a License

Submit FCC Form 605 along with the appropriate Proof of Passing Certificates. (Indicate on Schedule E of FCC Form 605 if you are requesting consolidation of DO and DM operator licenses.) Use the FCC Form 605 and the FCC Form 159 (fee processing form) to renew your license or to replace a lost, stolen, or mutilated license. Many Commercial Operator License Examination Managers (COLEMs) file these documents for applicants who test with them. Ask your COLEM if it provides this service to its customers.

Examinations

To obtain an FCC Commercial Operator License, applicants must submit, to the Commission, proof of passing written Elements as illustrated in the following table.

  Written Elements Telegraphy Elements
Type of License 1 3 5 6 7 7R 8 9 1 2
GMDSS Radio Operator's License                    
GMDSS Radio Maintainer's License                    

Written Examination Elements

  • Element 1 - Basic radio law and operating practice with which every maritime radio operator should be familiar. To pass, an examinee must correctly answer at least 18 out of 24 questions.
  • Element 3 - General Radiotelephone. Electronic fundamentals and techniques required to adjust, repair, and maintain radio transmitters and receivers. The exam consists of questions from the following categories: operating procedures, radio wave propagation, radio practice, electrical principles, circuit components, practical circuits, signals and emissions, and antennas and feed lines. To pass, an examinee must correctly answer at least 57 out of 76 questions.
  • Element 7 - GMDSS Radio Operating Practices. GMDSS radio operating procedures and practices sufficient to show detailed practical knowledge of the operation of all GMDSS sub-systems and equipment. The exam consists of questions from the following categories: general information, narrow band direct printing, INMARSAT, NAVTEX, digital selective calling, and survival craft. To pass, an examinee must correctly answer at least 75 out of 100 questions.
  • Element 9 - GMDSS Radio Maintenance Practices and Procedures. Requirements set forth in IMO Assembly on Training for Radio Personnel (GMDSS), Annex 5 and IMO Assembly on Radio Maintenance Guidelines for the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System related to Sea Areas A3 and A4. The exam consists of questions from the following categories: radio system theory, amplifiers, power sources, troubleshooting, digital theory, and GMDSS equipment and regulations. To pass, an examinee must correctly answer at least 38 out of 50 questions.

Third Class Radiotelegraph Operator's Certificate (T3)

Description

The T3 authorizes operation of certain coast radiotelegraph stations. It also confers the operating authority of the MP.

Qualifications

To qualify, you must:

  • be a legal resident of (or otherwise eligible for employment in) the United States; and
  • be able to receive and transmit spoken messages in English; and
  • pass a written and/or telegraphy examination(s) as required by the Rules.

Term of License

The T3 is issued for a period of five (5) years. These licenses may be renewed at any time within the last ninety (90) days of their term up until five years following expiration without having to re-take an examination. After the five-year grace period expires, applicants must retake the requisite written and/or telegraphy examination(s). An expired certificate is not valid for any radio operations.

As of May 20, 2013, the Commission no longer accepts applications for new T3 licenses, and T3 licenses for which renewal applications are filed are renewed as MP licenses. Former T3 holders who are renewed as MPs retain examination credit for Telegraphy Elements 1 and 2.

How to Obtain a License

Use the FCC Form 605 and the FCC Form 159 (fee processing form) to renew your license or to replace a lost, stolen, or mutilated license.

Second Class Radiotelegraph Operator's Certificate (T2)

Description

The T2 authorizes the holder to operate, repair, and maintain ship stations, and to repair and maintain coast radiotelegraph stations in the maritime services. It also confers all of the operating authority of the T3 and MP.

Qualifications

To qualify, you must:

  • be a legal resident of (or otherwise eligible for employment in) the United States; and
  • be able to receive and transmit spoken messages in English; and
  • pass a written and/or telegraphy examination(s) as required by the Rules.

Term of License

The T2 is issued for a period of five (5) years. These licenses may be renewed at any time within the last ninety (90) days of their term up until five years following expiration without having to re-take an examination. After the five-year grace period expires, applicants must retake the requisite written and/or telegraphy examination(s). An expired certificate is not valid for any radio operations.

As of May 20, 2013, the Commission no longer accepts applications for new T2 licenses, and T2 licenses for which renewal applications are filed are renewed as T licenses.

How to Obtain a License

Use the FCC Form 605 and the FCC Form 159 (fee processing form) to renew your license or to replace a lost, stolen, or mutilated license.

First Class Radiotelegraph Operator's Certificate (T1)

Description

A T1 is required only for those who serve as the chief radio operator on a U.S. passenger ship equipped with a radiotelegraph station. It also conveys all of the operating authority of a T2.

Qualifications

To qualify, you must:

  • be a legal resident of (or otherwise eligible for employment in) the United States; and
  • be able to receive and transmit spoken messages in English; and
  • pass a written and/or telegraphy examination(s) as required by the Rules.
  • be at least 21 years old; and
  • have one year of experience in sending and receiving public correspondence by radiotelegraph at a public coast station, a ship station, or both.

Term of License

The T1 is issued for a period of five (5) years. These licenses may be renewed at any time within the last ninety (90) days of their term up until five years following expiration without having to re-take an examination. After the five-year grace period expires, applicants must retake the requisite written and/or telegraphy examination(s). An expired certificate is not valid for any radio operations.

As of May 20, 2013, the Commission no longer accepts applications for new T1 licenses, and T1 licenses for which renewal applications are filed are renewed as T licenses.

How to Obtain a License

Use the FCC Form 605 and the FCC Form 159 (fee processing form) to renew your license or to replace a lost, stolen, or mutilated license.

Radiotelegraph Operator License (T)

Description

The T authorizes the holder to operate, repair, and maintain ship stations, and to repair and maintain coast radiotelegraph stations in the maritime services. It also confers all of the operating authority of a T2.

Qualifications

To qualify, you must:

  • be a legal resident of (or otherwise eligible for employment in) the United States; and
  • be able to receive and transmit spoken messages in English; and
  • pass a written and/or telegraphy examination(s) as required by the Rules.

Term of License

The T is issued for the holder's lifetime.

How to Obtain a License

Submit FCC Form 605 along with the appropriate Proof of Passing Certificates to apply. Use the FCC Form 605 and the FCC Form 159 (fee processing form) to renew your license or to replace a lost, stolen, or mutilated license. Many Commercial Operator License Examination Managers (COLEMs) file these documents for applicants who test with them. Ask your COLEM if it provides this service to its customers.

Examinations

To obtain an FCC Commercial Operator License, applicants must submit, to the Commission, proof of passing written and telegraphy Elements as illustrated in the following table.

  Written Elements Telegraphy Elements
Type of License 1 3 5 6 7 7R 8 9 1 2
Radiotelegraph Operator License                        

Written Examination Elements

  • Element 1 - Basic radio law and operating practice with which every maritime radio operator should be familiar. To pass, an examinee must correctly answer at least 18 out of 24 questions.
  • Element 6 - Advanced Radiotelegraph. Technical, legal, and other matters applicable to the operation of all classes of radiotelegraph stations. To pass, an examinee must correctly answer at least 75 out of 100 questions.

Telegraphy Examinations Elements

  • Element 1 -16 code groups per minute.
  • Element 2 - 20 words per minute.

Telegraphy exams may consist of both transmitting and receiving tests or just a receiving test. Although the FCC rules provide that passing a telegraphy receiving examination is adequate proof of an examinee's ability to both send and receive telegraphy, a COLEM may nonetheless include a sending segment in a telegraphy examination. Examinees must copy by ear and, if subject to a sending test, send by hand plain text and code groups in the international Morse code using all the letters of the alphabet, numerals 0-9, period, comma, question mark, slant mark, and prosigns AR, BT, and SK. Examinees must copy and send at the required speeds for one continuous minute without making any errors. Each test lasts approximately five minutes. The failing of any code test automatically terminates the examination. Code speeds are computed using five letters per word or code group. Punctuation symbols and numbers count as two letters each.

Ship Radar Endorsement

Description

Only persons whose commercial radio operator license bears this endorsement may repair, maintain, or internally adjust ship radar equipment.

Qualifications

To qualify, you must:

  • hold (or qualify for) a PG, DM, DB, T, T1, or T2; and
  • pass a written examination as described below

How to Obtain a License

Submit FCC Form 605 along with the appropriate Proof of Passing Certificates to apply. (You do NOT need to submit FCC Form 159 (fee processing form) or any fees.) Many Commercial Operator License Examination Managers (COLEMs) file these documents for applicants who test with them. Ask your COLEM if it provides this service to its customers.

Examinations

To obtain an FCC Commercial Operator License, applicants must submit, to the Commission, proof of passing written and/or telegraphy Elements as illustrated in the following table.

  Written Elements Telegraphy Elements
Type of License 1 3 5 6 7 7R 8 9 1 2
Radiotelegraph Operator License                     

 

Written Examination Elements

  • Element 8 - Ship Radar Techniques. Specialized theory and practice applicable to the proper installation, servicing, and maintenance of ship radar equipment in general use for marine navigation purposes. To pass, an examinee must correctly answer at least 38 out of 50 questions.

Six Month Service Endorsement

Description

A Six Month Service Endorsement must be obtained by any holder of a T, T1 or T2 who wishes to serve as the sole radio operator on board a large U.S. cargo ship sailing on the high seas.

Qualifications

To qualify, you must document that:

  • you have been employed as a radio operator on board ships of the United States for a period totaling at least six months; and
  • the ships were in service during the applicable six-month period; and
  • you held a T, T1 or T2 issued by the FCC during this entire six-month qualifying period; and
  • you hold a radio officer's license issued by the U.S. Coast Guard at the time the six months service endorsement is requested.

How to Obtain a Six Month Service Endorsement

For those applicants who are qualified by having at least 180 days of creditable service, the following is to be submitted to the Federal Communications Commission, 1270 Fairfield Road, Gettysburg, PA 17325-7245:

  • a certification letter signed by the vessel's master or owner/agent specifying the vessel name, vessel call sign, dates of shipment and discharge, total number of days served (minus any portion of any single in-port period exceeding seven days), and the names(s) and certificate number of the chief radio officer holding a six months service endorsement on the vessel during shipment; and
  • a completed FCC Form 605; and
  • an original or copy of the T, T1 or T2 Certificate; and
  • a valid copy of a U.S. Coast Guard license; and
  • certificate(s) of Discharge to Merchant Seaman.

Discontinued Licenses and Endorsements

The following types of licenses and endorsements are no longer operative:

  • First Class Radiotelephone Operator License
  • Second Class Radiotelephone Operator License
  • Third Class Radiotelephone Operator Permit
  • Broadcast Endorsement
  • Aircraft Radiotelegraph Endorsement

Bureau/Office: 

Updated: 
Friday, May 6, 2016